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ICC Note: Today marks the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attack which killed 28 Coptic Christians traveling to a monastery in Upper Egypt. Three days of mass are being celebrated in the churches where the Christians are originally from, as well as St. Samuel’s. Last year was an especially bloody year for Egypt’s Christians, as ISIS increased the number of targeted attacks against religious minorities.       

05/26/2018 Egypt (Wataninet) –   The date 26 May will mark one year on the terror attack that claimed the lives of 28 Copts, including children, who had been on their way for pilgrimage to the Western Desert Monastery of Anba Samuel al-Muetarrif (St Samuel the Confessor) in Minya, some 200km southwest Cairo. The pilgrims had been on three buses heading to the monastery when, some 15km on the unpaved road that leads there, they were attacked by Islamic jihadists, and killed for their faith. The Church has declared them martyrs of faith.

Holy Mass will be said for the souls of the martyrs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday—25, 26, and 27 May respectively—at St Samuel’s where eight of the martyrs are buried, and at the diocese churches from which the pilgrims had originally come: Biba in Beni Sweif; and Beni Mazar, Minya city, Abu-Qurqas, and Maghagha in Minya. Presiding over Mass will be Abbot of St Samuel’s, Anba Bassilius, and the respective bishops: Anba Stephanos, Anba Athanasius, Anba Arsanius, Anba Macarius, and Anba Aghathon.

The monks at St Samuel’s had sent a recent call for help to President Sisi, asking him to intervene to “break the siege” that was imposed on the monastery ever since the terror attack last year. Since the incident, the local security authorities banned all trips to the monastery. Security also held a stranglehold on vehicles carrying donations, goods or labourers to or from the monastery, meaning the monastery found it very difficult to sell its produce, which is the main source of income that sustains the monks.

St Samuel’s reject the idea that it is not possible to secure the unpaved road leading up to the monastery. Moreover, monastery officials say, they had been promised that the government would pave that road, but to date nothing was done.

Local security officials, however, are preparing to secure the road for the upcoming commemoration of the martyrs.

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For interviews with Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org.